Brewing failures pt 2. (interlude)

#: no proper bottles. just these ikea jars

#: dropped a cap (sanitized) into the pot

#: no honey, plain sugar

#: splashed beer over my thumb while siphoning – which took 3 tries to begin with and one of the bottles i used the old “suck air into the tube” method that I learned from siphoning gasoline (kidding!).

Now we wait.



Anoxic Depths

It’s worth mentioning that a good friend over at Studio Tectorum has released a game recently, Anoxic Depths. It’s a caving diving roguelike that makes me anxious as I play it, and reaffirms my desire to never actually strap on SCUBA gear and muck about in tight dark spaces. I highly recommend it, particularly if you’re looking for a game that’s different from that call-of-halo-craft game you’ve been bored with for years.

Brewing Failures part 1

Two weeks ago I finally cracked open my Brooklyn brewing starter kit that I had shipped from amazon nearly a year ago. Two weeks later I’m finally getting around to writing a post about it. Timing is not my thing. Apparently neither is brewing beer.

For starters, I didn’t even have all of the proper equipment. I thought that one pot would be enough for the mash, and started boiling some water to make the “oatmeal” texture that the instructions recommended only to realize that I might need a second container to pour the water into in order to make the wort. Boiling stopped, new pot acquired (see it int he back there?). Minutes later, the mash was made and a second pot ready for this wort making.


Which brings is to the next dilemma. As it turns out, the so called “large” strainer that I had was not big enough for the mash. I didn’t realize how much the thing would expand (or how heavy it would be) and apparently I have a pretty poor concept of volume when “eye-balling” things and so here we have two strainers struggling to hold up what seems to be a bowling ball’s worth of boiling hot mash. Or is it more than a bowling ball? I apparently can’t tell. IMG_3293With boiling water poured over the mash in order to create the wort, which was brought back up to a boil, I finally feel like I’m doing something correct for a change. Adding in hops every few minutes, this part of the process was great. Like making soup from a can.


And just when things seem to be going well…

The next task in the beer making process is to cool the wort quickly. Some people have special cooling machines that do this, pumping cold water past the container and bringing their wort to 70 F in around half an hour. I used a large bag of ice in a sink with some salt water thrown in. This promptly melted and being terribly unprepared, I threw the only thing else I had in my freezer in – popsicles. These melted too.


So I gave up and threw the wort directly in the freezer. It cooled in about an hour and a half.  (Worried yet?)


Finally, the wort cooled enough to throw into the sanitized jug. I added in the yeast  (which of course was expired) and hoped for the best.


Three days later, this magnificent color change occurred suggesting that either the yeast was still active or that I’ve got some pretty strong bacterial growth from some random contamination.


Stay tuned for part 2: bottling!

Some thoughts on The Coddling of the American Mind

The article is here: The Coddling of the American Mind

In this piece, the authors argue that students are driving a trend to remove any material they find uncomfortable from colleges and universities throughout the US. In the first paragraph, the authors place the blame for this movement and the subsequent coddling directly on students. In this way, the authors use a few truths to mask their blame-game, where students and administrators are both criticised for their participation in a growing trend to infantilise students. This argument is not only unfortunate, as the only loser is the education system, but distracting.

In some of the cases presented the students take direct action, however in many examples they work through administrative channels to file their complaints. In this way, students’ drives to clean their universities of offensive material is not simply a problem with students, but a problem with administration.

Is the problem with the students if, due to a complaint, a professor “was then subjected to a long investigation.” Title IX complaints necessitate an investigation, they don’t necessitate a long investigation – the length is entirely up to the administration, not the students who complained.

That is to say, the “offendedness sweepstakes” is a fine metaphor – but as a millennial might have said a decade ago, don’t hate the player hate the game. If students are overreaching in their complaints, isn’t it possible that they’re doing so is related to how the system reacts to the complaints, empowering them with their lottery winnings? Further, did students not complain about trivial matters when the authors were in college? That students complain about seemingly senseless matters cannot be a new phenomenon (students and adults alike riot over sports teams – now that is surreal) so what has changed since the authors went to college? Though massive tuition increases are now burdening the students with debt (and you wonder why they’re stressed!), I’d hazard a guess it’s the commodification of education – the adoption of student-as-revenue business model we see taken up by universities.  But that’s just a hunch.

See, if the authors argue that removing trigger warnings is scientifically unsound and can help the students, and that university administrators should discourage their use, give up their profiteering ways and return to the project of education, I’d say “Good idea!” If the authors had focused solely on how to help students, the article would likely have been fantastic, especially given their expertise. Unfortunately, they did not.

Instead, they point out the way that universities are teaching students to have zero tolerance, which, much like the zero tolerance drug policies that were inflicted on students during the 1990’s is undoubtedly wrong-headed. The example provided by the authors is a great one, but is severely misguided. They write:

“After the student reported Jung’s comment, a group of nearly 20 others e-mailed the UCF administration explaining that the comment had clearly been made in jest. Nevertheless, UCF suspended Jung from all university duties and demanded that he obtain written certification from a mental-health professional that he was “not a threat to [himself] or to the university community” before he would be allowed to return to campus.

All of these actions teach a common lesson: smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.”

Here, the authors focus on one students’ problematic behaviour and use it to distil some wisdom, ignoring the other twenty students who clearly went out of their way to defend the teacher and the administration of UCF, the irrational bully. The authors make the same mistake as the institution, giving one students’ complaints far more weight than they deserve in order to advance their agenda. Further, their tendency to cherry pick negative examples of student agency and ignore when students react positively simplifies the problem in favour of their own bias.

The article is more or less the same throughout.  The authors define the problem in terms of students’ over-sensitivity and sometimes inappropriate means for addressing their feelings, brushing under the rug the problems that set up these students’ (sometimes) questionable complaints. Even if the way that students rationalize their complaint is inappropriate, the way that the authors from the problem distract from a deeper issue – the neo-liberal baby-boomer administration that treats students as products rather than people. Though it’s terribly dehumanizing, the authors can return to their own beloved Pavlov to understand what’s happening – the stimulus becomes a stimulus because it is paired with a reward.

Besides, in an era where presidential candidates and large swaths of his supporters think public displays of misogyny are OK, can you really blame students for wanting to create spaces that are free from that sort of thing?


To say that Tokyo is an interesting city is a gross understatement, and a handful of pictures certainly won’t do it justice. Here they are anyway. 

Walking to the Meiji Jingu Shrine means walking through a scenic park that feels quire removed from  downtown Tokyo. Before entering, one may use a station such as this to purify oneself.


The shrine keepers use large brooms to methodically sweep leaves. It was pleasant to watch. Meiji Jingu


Tokyo, like any city, can be unexpected.
Cats love coke

Shimokitazawa, a hip neighborhood with many small shops is a fantastic neighborhood for a long walk.


A small market near Asakusa selling octopus.

Tonkotsu ramen from Ichiran is standard (good) Japanese Ramen that costs about 800 JPY (around 8 USD).  Though it might be considered by some to be a bit generic, it’s still a step above the average Singapore ramen (understandably).

Pictures aren’t allowed inside the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Just outside is this large Totoro statue, happily welcoming visitors.

Totoro, Ghibli

I didn’t spend much time in Roppongi, but found this small taste of home there. As it was still early (about 8pm?) the place was empty – not quite befitting a true Milwaukee bar. Still, a welcome sight.
Milwaukee Bar, Tokyo

Ventured to this place on the recommendation of a friend and found (below) a very generous bowl of Tonkotsu for under 500 JPY. It was probably the best bowl I found in Tokyo, especially considering the price.
Damned Good TonkotsuIMG_1765

2014 Catchup 3

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The historic temples were “lost” for a few hundred years and “rediscovered”in the early twentieth century. Though the tourism/commercialism of the history dominates, the state can’t be easily dissociated from the (relatively) recent government brutality and (ongoing) exploitation.